June 23, 2005
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), which would, in essence, establish a national parental notification requirement for many minors seeking to have an abortion. The Parents’ Right to Know Act—legislation introduced June 21 in both houses of Congress—would require family planning clinics funded under Title X of the Public Health Service Act to notify the parents of any minor seeking contraceptives at least five days before dispensing a method. This legislation would affect young women seeking care at more than 4,600 family planning clinics across the country.
While it is important that teens talk to their parents about key health decisions, mandating parental involvement for contraceptive use could backfire, putting teens at increased risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. A recent study by Guttmacher researchers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that many teens (60%) attending family planning clinics are already talking to their parents about their clinic visits and contraceptive use. However, the study shows that a law requiring that their parents be notified would lead many teens to stop using the clinics for prescription contraceptives. Instead, 18% would continue to have sex but would use no contraceptive method or would rely on rhythm or withdrawal, thus increasing their risk. Only 1% indicated that their only reaction to a law mandating parental involvement would be to stop having sex.
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